Be stewards of creation, urges Pope Francis

Care for the environment has been a key issue for this pontificate. Credit: Wikipedia
Care for the environment has been a key issue for this pontificate. Credit: Wikipedia

Pope Francis has called on Christians of all denominations to engage in a major global ecumenical stewardship initiative, as we prepare to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation tomorrow (Thursday, 1 September).

Originally an initiative of the Orthodox Church, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation started in 1989; Pope Francis went on to establish it as an event for the Catholic Church in a letter last year to Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Cardinal Kurt Koch, in his capacity as the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Care for creation and the environment have featured significantly in the current pontificate, ever since Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ assumed the papal name of Francis – after St Francis of Assisi – upon his election in 2013. His encyclical Laudato si', published on 18 June 2015, directly addressed the issues of climate change, care for the environment, and sustainable development.

Our common commitment to life

Last Sunday, following the traditional Angelus prayer at St Peter’s in Rome, the Pope described the forthcoming World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation as “an opportunity to strengthen the common commitment to safeguard life, respecting the environment and nature,” saying that it was a chance to engage “with our Orthodox brothers and with other Churches” in this prayerful initiative.

In his letter dated 6 August 2015, in which he established the Day for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis wrote: “The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

In the UK, supporters of Jesuit Missions are being encouraged to join a Week of Action in October to ensure that climate change remains on the agenda of politicians and the world’s decision-makers.